Earlier this summer, J and I were planning a summer vacation over labor day weekend. We would each have a long weekend and I had a day or two available for vacation. We already had several other plans this summer. Our ideas were Hawaii or Montana. Believe it or not, I wanted Montana more than Hawaii. A direct flight to Hawaii is 6 hours. For about the last year and a half, I’ve had some extra flying anxiety. It’s not on every flight, or every trip, but I didn’t want to try to conquer 6 hours over the pacific ocean during the summer when Hawaii would be busy and expensive. It’s still on the list, but I’d rather try for a January or February trip some time. I do, however, REALLY want to see Yellowstone. J has family in Montana. So Montana won. I bought a new camera to take awesome photos of the wilderness that is that state. I was doing research into where we could go and how we could fit in a trip to Yellowstone.
And then J texted me one morning with an amazing idea – what if we readjusted some of our summer plans, and made this a real vacation? He has significantly more vacation time than I do. But if we changed some things we planned to do, and I shaved a day off here and there from our current plans, he figured out that we could take a whole week off of work together. We could still go to Montana, or we could go south. Montana isn’t that far from where we live, and we could easily get there in one day of driving, while still having the energy to sight see and relax. But San Diego is an 18 hour drive. I chose San Diego! We have mutual friends there, one of my best friends from law school and her family live there, and J’s brother and his family are there too! I also have lots of family still in the LA area. It seemed perfect!
We had a long list of things we’d like to do in San Diego, but actually spent most of our time on the beach. It was amazing.
Our drive down started at 6 AM on Saturday, the morning after attending a beautiful wedding. We had planned to leave at 5 AM but the wedding was too much fun so we went to bed later than expected. The drive was nice and smooth, without too many people on the road. Plus, Washington and Oregon are so beautiful! I love driving on the freeways here, because you always feel like you’re in a forest.
After about 10 hours on our journey, 9 hours on the road, we ended up in Sacramento. J had made us reservations at a Red Lion. We have stayed at a few Red Lions in the past and they’ve always been great. (In fact, we stayed at one in Kent, WA for a different wedding last summer that was super affordable, had lots of amenities, a huge room with a nice bathroom, and an in room jetted tub. Those should be required after a wedding that has lots of dancing.) But the Red Lion Woodlake in Sacramento left a lot to be desired. We were told later that it was a bad part of town, which I’m sure didn’t help. It did make sense though, because when we pulled into the parking lot there were signs warning would-be-thieves that bait cars were in use, and patrons to take all of your valuables out of your car.
We arrived around 5:30 PM and were told that our room wasn’t ready yet. Excuse me? So they offered an upgrade as an apology. But then said oh just kidding, we don’t have any upgrades. So they put us in their one available room, the ADA accessible room. If I had known we’d be taking that room, I would have asked to wait. What if someone who actually NEEDED that room showed up?! But we found out too late, and that’s where we stayed.
The other bad side was that it had two double beds. I could barely fit on mine. Have I told you guys that J is over 6’4″ tall? Even with a whole double bed to himself, he barely slept. The beds were supposedly sleep numbers, which seemed like a cool thing to try out. But everything I did to mine did nothing but make it more and more uncomfortable.
There were some good parts, it had a sliding glass door that opened to the pool. I was super excited about the potential for a hot tub, but the pool and hot tub were packed with families. After doing the math on how many kids probably peed in there today, I decided the hot tub was out of the question. If we had been staying during the day time, I’m sure I would have lounged out there for awhile. There was also a bar/restaurant. We were there at the same time as a Muay Thai competition. Our waitress/bar tender was super short with us and continually took my drink order without bringing it to me. That is, until we were almost done with our meal and she asked if we wanted our drinks to go. We told her we weren’t there for the competition, and suddenly she was more than happy to help us and gave us real silverware/glasses (I didn’t realize we were using their cheap stuff until that point). I would think you’d want to over deliver on customer service during a convention or event, but that was not her mindset. But the food was really good, the wine was nice after a long day in the car, and the bar and room both had football on TV.
Then I took a shower. Let me tell you guys, I’ve never used more amazing toiletries in a hotel before. I’ve stayed in some REALLY nice hotels for work in the past (I’m looking at you, The Montage in Laguna Beach. I miss you!), but none have had soaps and lotions that worked this well and smelled this nice. I’m not normally someone who takes the left over shampoo and conditioner home with me. But this time I did so that I could remember to buy it when I got back.
The toiletries were Cascadia Soapery. I was in Seattle last weekend and looked up where I could buy them. I assumed Pike Place Market would at least sell them. Nope! Apparently they only stock Red Lion for now (based on their testimonials, that’s the only place people have used them) and don’t sell retail sized products yet. PLEASE Cascadia Soapery, contact me and let me know how I can buy all of your stuff without having to order eBay lots of many tiny bottles!!! I even e-mailed them to let me know when that happens.
Luckily, we were only staying at the Red Lion for the night. We hit the road at 5 AM on Sunday morning, after much whining on my part, and much turning on the lights and telling me to stop whining on J’s part. He paid me back by posting a photo on Facebook of me passed out in the passenger seat. Of course.
The drive down felt super fast, but that’s probably because I slept through a couple of hours of it. We switched places at the half way point. I had considered going around LA and driving through where I grew up, but somehow GoogleMaps kept telling us there was no traffic at all through LA so I kept going. It worked out really well though, because there really wasn’t any traffic! Plus, my cousins (who I’ve always called Aunt and Uncle, but technically they’re second cousins) were in Long Beach, so we went off course in the other direction and stopped to visit with them in their hotel lobby for about 30 minutes, before getting back on the road to San Diego. It was really fun to surprise them and get a few hugs.
An hour and a half later we were pulling into San Diego! We made amazing time and arrived 3 hours earlier than expected! We stayed the first couple nights with J’s brother, but it was the day before school started and they were still running some errands. So instead, we met our friends for a late lunch and a drink at Millers Field in Pacific Beach. I changed out of my yoga pants and into regular clothes in their bathroom. It felt SO GOOD to unwind after a day and a half inside the car, and to let it settle in that we were really in San Diego!